Bob White (theatre director)

White graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Montréal's Loyola College in 1970 and acquired a Masters in drama from the University of Alberta 2 years later.

Bob White
Bob White has had a major impact on Canadian theatre as a champion of new Canadian plays (photo Sean Dennie, courtesy Stratford Festival).

Bob White

Bob White, director, artistic director, dramaturge (born at Montréal 7 Aug 1949). Bob White has had a major impact on Canadian theatre as a champion of new Canadian plays - their creation, development, production and profile. He has directed at, and run, some of the country's most adventurous theatre companies. His own productions, which gravitate toward contemporary work, are notable for their bold, vivid style, and his programming choices for their vigorous embrace of original and experimental work.

White graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Montréal's Loyola College in 1970 and acquired a Masters in drama from the University of Alberta 2 years later. After early backstage stints at LES FEUX FOLLETS and Toronto's peripatetic Studio Lab Theatre, White co-founded 2 troupes in his hometown: Thirteen Jackies, a three-member performance art troupe, and Theatre Balagan, which experimented with performance techniques.

As artistic director of Playwrights Workshop Montreal (1975-78), Bob White expanded its reach to include writers from across the country and instigated workshops and staged readings for more than 40 fledgling Canadian plays. More than 25 new plays premiered during his tenure (1978-87) as artistic director of FACTORY THEATRE in Toronto, one of Canada's highest-profile showcases for original work. During this notably fertile period at Factory, White championed such Canadian star playwrights as George F. WALKER (Theatre of the Film Noir, Beautiful City), Paul Ledoux and Lawrence Jeffery.

White continued to direct Walker's black, savagely funny comedies (Zastrozzi, Nothing Sacred, Love and Anger, Escape From Happiness, Problem Child) during his time at Calgary's ALBERTA THEATRE PROJECTS (ATP). For the first dozen years with the company, 1987-99, he was "artistic associate," in charge of script selection and development for ATP's PlayRites Festival of New Canadian Plays. From 1999 to 2009, he was the company's artistic director. Under White's aegis, ATP blossomed as a home and ambassador for new Canadian work, notable for its hospitality to hot contemporary scripts from across the country and the border, and abroad.

Bob White's own lengthy directing resumé at ATP includes 6 premieres by Calgary-based Eugene Stickland, and plays by other Canadian notables Michael HEALEY and Brad FRASER, alongside high-profile scripts by such controversial American playwrights as David Mamet (Oleanna), Paula Vogel (How I Learned To Drive), Neil Labute (The Shape of Things), and Tony Kushner's two-part masterwork Angels In America. Along with credits in theatres across Canada, White has also directed radio dramas for CBC, among them a version of Stickland's black comedy A Guide To Mourning. For CALGARY OPERA's Young Company, White directed a chamber version of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte.

Meanwhile the Banff Playwrights Colony - to which ATP contributed resources under White's co-artistic directorship of that program - gained in prestige and stature as well, in its work of developing and refining scripts for production in theatres across the country.

When White left ATP in 2009 to take up the life of a freelance director/dramaturg, he became a consulting director for the STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL's new play program.

Bob White's long list of awards include the 1982 DORA AWARD for outstanding production (for Walker's Theatre of the Film Noir), the 1987 National Play Development Award, the 2001 Harry and Martha Cohen Award "for sustained contribution to the development of theatre in Calgary," a 2002 Community Achievement Award, 3 Betty MITCHELL Awards for outstanding direction (Who Has Seen The Wind, Wit, A Guide To Mourning), an honorary LLD from the University of Calgary in 2008, and membership in the ORDER OF CANADA in 2009 for his expert mentorship and promotion of Canadian playwrights and their scripts.